A computer program easily beat a top U.S. fighter pilot in five rounds of simulated F-16 flight combat during a competition. The AI program won all five rounds in under two minutes, showing the technology’s promise. The human pilot, “Banger” (name withheld), a recent graduate of the Air Force’s F-16 Weapons Instructor Course is an operational fighter pilot with more than 2,000 hours in the F-16.
The “AlphaDogFight Trials” were sponsored by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, more commonly known as DARPA, which is exploring the use of AI for a variety of military applications.
Artificial Intelligence pilots have a significant advantage over human pilots, as they are not affected by the extreme G forces that occur when maneuvering at high speeds. They are also able to aim and fire to a superhuman level, though until now artificial intelligence has lacked the tactical thinking that humans are capable of. This AI system was developed through deep reinforcement learning in order to overcome this and defeat the human pilot.
Darpa said the AlphaDogfight Trials is a precursor to its ACE program, which ultimately aims to use AI algorithms to fly real aircraft.
The human pilot said that he was unable to match twisting techniques adopted by the AI pilot that he had not witnessed in human-to-human air combat. “Standard things we do as fighter pilots are just not working,” he said.
“Do you want Skynet? Because this is how you get Skynet.” ~Grey Team
Firing 50 rounds a second with the GAU-17 Gatling gun, as the door-gunner for a UH-1Y “Venom” helicopter (Huey), is undoubtedly something that very few people on this planet will ever experience.
US Marine Door-gunners are the only users of that weapon system in an offensive capability, although other variants of it have been used since Vietnam. These attack helicopters are armed to the teeth and typically fly alongside an AH-1Z “Viper” attack helicopter (Cobra), as part of a team of six Marines — two Cobra pilots, two Huey pilots, and two-door gunners — commanding tremendous firepower in battle.
There is an entire buffet of offensive and defensive capabilities between the two aircraft, making the Marines capabilities in battle, tremendously lethal.
Gunnery Sgt. Fitzgerald is a seasoned crew chief with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s “Gunrunners” (HMLA-269) who has served for 12 years. On September 14, 2012, the North Carolina native was brushing his teeth before bed when small arms fire raked his building and explosions shook the ground at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan .
Fitzgerald rushed outside into what he describes as his “most intense combat experience ever”. “It was chaos. Taliban insurgents disguised in Army fatigues had infiltrated the base. The fuel pits had erupted in flames, and the enemy was pouring fire of all kinds onto the base, everything from bullets to rocket-propelled grenades.”
“My unit was under a ferocious attack,” Fitzgerald recalled. “We actually had to submit a request for air support on ourselves for ourselves.”
While he fought with Marines on the ground, embracing the concept that every Marine is a rifleman, others from his unit took to the sky in a few of the undamaged helicopters. “When our helicopters started attacking and suppressing the Taliban infiltrators by providing close air support, those of us on the ground started cheering,” Fitzgerald said.
The Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in the fall of 2012 was stopped after a brutal four-hour firefight, but not before two Marines were killed, 17 British and US personnel were wounded, and nine aircraft were damaged or destroyed.
For Fitzgerald, being both a helicopter crew chief and door-gunner who normally wages war above the battlefield, his fighting that night on the down below forever changed his understanding of his service. “That was the first time I was ever actually on the ground seeing the impact that my unit has downrange.
“There was a saying among the Taliban leadership that got back to us,” Fitzgerald said. “They would say, ‘Fight the Americans. Fight the infidels. Fight them hard, but if you ever see their tiny gray helicopters, don’t shoot them. They will kill you.'”
On Friday night, the official Twitter account for the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) did something relatively innocent: it posted a photo of a pair of Army special forces soldiers conducting night operations.
When Marine Recruit Austin Farrell arrived at the Chosin Rifle Range, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, he anticipated performing well on the range but never expected to walk away with the highest rifle score ever recorded in the history of the depot. He scored an almost perfect248 out of 250 on Table One of the Department of Defense’s toughest basic marksmanship challenge, the Marine Corps rifle qualification test.
The Marine Corps Table One rifle qualification includes shooting from the prone, kneeling, and standing positions at distances of up to 500 yards with the M16A4 Service Rifle, using the Rifle Combat Optic.
When asked how he was able to break the Depot’s record, Ferrell responded: “Practice, before I got here, was definitely a big part of it, but getting into a relaxed state of mind is what helped me shoot… and after I shot a 248, everyone was congratulating me except when I got back to the squad bay. My drill instructors gave me a hard time for dropping those two points,” said Ferrell with a laugh.
Ferrell’s father George Ferrell said that his son has always given his all into whatever he put his mind to and that he knows Austin is going to have a promising career in the Marine Corps because of his dedication to success. “I’m always so proud of him, but this is above what I expected,” said George. “I always told him to strive to be number one, and the fact that he was able to accomplish that is just a testament to his hard work.” Ferrell is scheduled to graduate Sept. 4, 2020, with Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.
Three men have been rescued from a tiny Pacific island after writing a giant SOS sign in the sand that was spotted from above. The men had been missing in the Micronesia archipelago for over three days when their distress signal was spotted Sunday on uninhabited Pikelot Island. Guardsmen from the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard and the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pennsylvania ANG deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, were the first to locate the three missing mariners during the search-and-rescue mission in the Federated States of Micronesia southwest of Guam.
The men had apparently set out from Pulawat atoll in a 7-meter (23-foot) boat on July 30 and had intended to travel about 43 kilometers (27 miles) to Pulap atoll when they sailed off course and ran out of fuel. The men were found about 190 kilometers (118 miles) from where they had set out.
Searchers in Guam asked for Australian help. The military ship, Canberra, which was returning to Australia from exercises in Hawaii, diverted to the area and joined forces with U.S. searchers from Guam. Once located by the US Air National Guard, the helicopter crew from the Canberra delivered supplies to the stranded mariners, while a U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules from Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, airdropped a radio and message block informing them the FSS Independence was en-route to rescue and return them home.
“Partnerships” said U.S Coast Guard Capt. Christopher Chase, Coast Guard Sector Guam, commander. “This is what made this search-and-rescue case successful. Through coordination with multiple response organizations, we were able to save three members of our community and bring them back home to their families.”